One of the top pitching masterminds is making his way to Starkville, as 28-year coaching veteran Gary Henderson has been named Mississippi State’s new pitching coach, MSU head coach John Cohen announced Saturday.
Cohen also announced the promotion of Will Coggin to assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. Coggin previously served as MSU’s coordinator of baseball camps and volunteer assistant coach.
“We are excited to have Gary join the Bulldog family and are thrilled to have Will as an assistant coach,” Cohen said. “Gary’s resume speaks for itself in what he has accomplished from developing Major League arms to his success in the Southeastern Conference. The staff we have assembled will be tremendous in developing our players and will help us continue our quest of winning championships.”
The 2012 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, Henderson is a seasoned veteran and one of the top pitching minds in the entire country. He has 28 years of coaching experience, including spending the last eight seasons at the helm of the Kentucky Wildcats, where his teams had unprecedented success and set numerous program records.
“It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to be a part of such a storied program like Mississippi State,” Henderson said. “John’s teams have always been synonymous with success and outstanding competitive spirit.”
Well known for his ability to produce Major League talent on the mound, seven of Henderson’s pitching protégés have reached the Majors since 2012, which is tops in the SEC. That total is two better than Florida and Vanderbilt’s five during that five-year span.
Kentucky just completed the most successful five-year span in program history under the leadership of Henderson, as the Wildcats won at least 30 games in five-straight seasons for the first time in school history. The team set the program record for wins on three separate occasions and rose to No. 1 in the nation for three weeks in 2012 for the first time in school history. He was voted SEC Coach of the Year by his peers after the school’s record 2012 season. In 2006, the program won its first and only SEC Championship in baseball under the guidance of Henderson and Cohen.
Henderson is the fastest coach in Kentucky history to reach 200 wins. In his tenure with the Wildcats, 72 players were picked in the MLB Draft or signed as a free agent.
Henderson served as the pitching coach on the USA Collegiate National Team during the 2015 summer. While managing a dynamic pitching staff, Henderson oversaw a Team USA no-hitter over the Cuban Senior National Team, the first time Cuba had been no-hit in international play. Team USA won its series meetings with Cuba and Taiwan.
Prior to Kentucky, Henderson spent five seasons as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Oregon State. The Beavers notched the school’s first ever College World Series titles in 2006 and 2007, riding the arms of several players recruited by Henderson. The most notable was CWS MVP Kevin Gunderson, who pitched a brilliant postseason in leading the Beavers to the title.
At Oregon State, Henderson coached eight Beaver pitchers who were drafted by major league teams, five of whom were selected in the top eight rounds. With the help of Henderson’s recruiting efforts, the Beavers improved from 19 wins in 1999 to 31 in both the 2001 and 2002 seasons, finishing 31-24 and 31-23, respectively. In his time with the Beavers, two of Henderson’s recruiting classes were ranked among the top 30 nationally. Meanwhile, his pitching staff led the Pac-10 Conference in complete games in both the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
Before Oregon State, Henderson served as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the high-octane Florida Gators from 1995-98. In that time, he helped the Gators to the SEC Championship and the College World Series in both 1996 and 1998. Collegiate Baseball awarded national rankings to all four of Henderson’s recruiting classes at Florida, including a No. 4 spot in 1996. The 1996 season also saw Collegiate Baseball tab Henderson as the National Assistant Coach of the Year.
In his playing days, Henderson pitched one year at Linfield College before transferring to San Diego State. He compiled a 19-5 career record at the two schools, earning his first career win in a road matchup at Southern California.
Henderson, a former standout prep quarterback, earned a bachelor’s degree in English from San Diego State and a master’s degree in sports psychology from SDSU.
Henderson and his wife, Vicki, have two sons, Alex (30) and Ty (14).
Coggin returns for his second season in Starkville after helping guide the Bulldogs to one of the most successful seasons in program history in 2016. MSU earned a program-record 21 SEC victories en route to capturing its first SEC Regular-Season Championship since 1989. Helping instruct the Bulldogs’ hitters, Coggin was instrumental in State improving in almost every statistical category on offense from 2015.
The Bulldogs finished 2016 with 132 doubles (1st SEC, 14th NCAA), 682 hits (2nd SEC, 7th NCAA), a .308 batting average (2nd SEC, 19th NCAA), .385 on-base percentage (2nd SEC, 49th NCAA), .446 slugging percentage (2nd SEC, 39th NCAA) and 47 home runs (5th SEC, 51st NCAA). Each category saw a major jump from MSU’s 2015 totals, which is a testament to the leadership and teaching of Coggin.
In helping oversee MSU’s offensive development in 2016, Coggin was an instrumental part in the outstanding seasons by a number of Bulldog batters. Most notable is SEC Freshman of the Year Jake Mangum, who is in line to claim the 2016 SEC batting title with a .408 batting average, which also stands seventh in the NCAA and first amongst freshmen nationally. Coggin also played a part in the development of Bulldog offensive stars such as Nathaniel Lowe, Brent Rooker and Jack Kruger, who all finished 2016 in the top 10 of the SEC in a number of offensive categories.
Coggin’s first year saw the Bulldogs set a program record for number of players taken in the MLB Draft, as 11 players were selected in 2016. State also added three players to its All-American list, bumping the program total to 50, and tied a program record with five All-SEC selections.
Before coming to MSU, Coggin served as an assistant coach for three years at St. Johns River State College in Palatka, Florida. While there, the Booneville, Mississippi, native helped lead the Vikings to a 122-42 overall record (.744), including a 57-14 mark (.803) inside the Mid-Florida Conference. The 122 wins from 2013-15 were the most by a Florida junior college. After being ranked as high as 18th nationally in 2013 and fourth in the country in 2014 by Perfect Game, the Vikings earned a No. 1 ranking for much of this past spring.
Serving as the SJRSC third base coach and recruiting coordinator, Coggin was part of a 2015 squad which won a school-record 47 games (47-10), surpassing the previous mark of 38 set in 2013. The Vikings won their third straight Mid-Florida Conference championship this past spring, accomplishing the feat for the first time since 1966-68. Coggin also helped lead SJRSC to its first Florida State Tournament win in 38 years, finishing the season first in the Florida junior college ranks in wins, runs, home runs, RBIs, walks, on-base percentage and total bases.
Individually, Coggin was instrumental in player development, recruiting & coaching 25 players who went on to sign with Division I programs. A total of 45 players signed NLI’s to four-year universities during his tenure at SJRSC. Included in that number is first baseman Nathaniel Lowe, a Mississippi State signee who earned NJCAA First-Team All-American honors as a first baseman in 2015 after hitting .372 with 59 runs, 53 RBIs and 17 home runs in 56 games.
Prior to coaching in Florida, Coggin was part of Cohen’s staff at MSU from 2009-12. During that stretch, the Maroon and White won the 2011 NCAA Atlanta Regional, advanced to the 2011 NCAA Gainesville Super Regional and captured the 2012 SEC Tournament championship on their way to appearing in the 2012 NCAA Tallahassee Regional.
Before joining the staff in Starkville, Coggin was a middle infielder for the Bulldogs from 2007-08 after transferring from Northeast Mississippi Community College, where he played from 2005-06. Coggin earned his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology in 2010 from MSU before receiving a master’s degree in sports administration in 2012.
(From MSU Media Relations)